Evanston Police release 911 call that led to handcuffing of Northwestern prof’s son

Susan Du, City Editor

The Evanston Police Department released Friday an audio recording of the 911 call that led officers to mistakenly detain the 13-year-old son of a Northwestern journalism professor.

Earlier this week, officers handcuffed Diwani Greenwell, the son of Medill Prof. Ava Thompson Greenwell, after they thought that he fit the description of a burglary suspect reported as a “black male wearing cargo shorts.” Diwani was released after the burglary victim told police they had nabbed the wrong person.

The recording, which includes the burglary call to 911 and the subsequent dispatch to officers, shows that police were told to locate a young black boy, “wearing a sort of cargo khaki shorts, dark brown T-shirt or dark shirt.”

In a tweet hours after officers slapped handcuffs on her son, Greenwell said she was planning to file a formal complaint with the department. The detaining officer failed to effectively communicate to her what was going on and offered a “half-hearted apology” only after she demanded one, Greenwell told The Daily.

At least one leader of the local black community has suggested Diwani may have been the subject of racial profiling.

By releasing the audio recording, the department hopes to dispel any doubt that officers acted appropriately in their pursuit of the described offender, EPD spokesman Perry Polinski said.

“This department is concerned any time there’s allegations of racial profiling, and that’s part of what contributed to the decision to release the audio, so there aren’t any rumors or misinterpretations,” Polinski said. “It primarily had to do with the description that was provided by the caller and was dispatched that resulted in this young man getting stopped in the first place.”

An internal investigation into police conduct will address Greenwell’s complaints, Polinski said. At the Evanston City Council’s Human Services Committee meeting Wednesday, EPD Chief Richard Eddington said the investigation may take two months to complete, according to Evanston Now.